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Many assets do not have to go through the probate process

Many Massachusetts residents want to maximize any inheritance left to their loved ones. One way to do this is to limit the number of assets that must go through the probate process before being distributed to heirs and beneficiaries. It may still be necessary to file a probate petition and the will, but with proper estate planning, it does not have to be a time-consuming and expensive process.

Many accounts can be passed to loved ones through beneficiary designations (retirement accounts and life insurance policies), payable on death accounts (bank accounts), or transfer on death registrations (often used for vehicles and securities such as stocks and bonds). Real estate can be owned jointly, so that upon the death of one party, the decedent's interest in the property passes to the other owner by operation of law. Of course, holding a piece of real estate jointly with someone else gives the other party certain rights to the property.

An alternative could be to create a revocable trust to hold the property, along with any other assets. This type of trust is created during the life of the grantor and may be amended, modified or revoked prior to death. The trust specifies how and when the property in the trust is transferred to the beneficiary after death.

By limiting the number of assets that need to go through the probate process, heirs and beneficiaries might be able to receive the maximum benefit possible from them. Furthermore, family members have a lot to deal with after the passing of a loved one. Making the administration of the estate as simple as possible could be considered one last gift to the people a Massachusetts resident loves.

Source: FindLaw, "Avoiding the Probate Process", Aug. 12, 2015

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